Wheat water productivity and yield in a cool highland environment: Effect of early sowing with supplemental irrigation
The Central Anatolian Plateau of Turkey is a typical cool highland rainfed wheat area with an annual rainfall of 300–500 mm. Due to suboptimal seasonal rainfall amounts and distribution, wheat yields in the region are low and fluctuate substantially over seasons. Delayed sowing due to late rainfall affects early crop establishment before winter frost and causes substantial reduction in yield. A 4-year field study (1998/1999 to 2001/2002) was carried out at Ankara Research Institute of Rural Services to assess the impact of early sowing with supplemental irrigation (SI) and management options during other dry spells on the productivity of a bread wheat cultivar, “Bezostia”. Treatments included early sowing with 50 mm irrigation and normal sowing with no irrigation as main plots. Four spring (SI) levels occupied the sub-plots. These are rainfed (no-irrigation), full irrigation to sature crop water requirements and two deficit irrigation levels of 1/3 and 2/3 at the full irrigation treatments.
Results showed that early establishment of the crop, using 50 mm of irrigation water at sowing, increased grain yield by over 65% and adding about 2.0 t/ha to the average rainfed yield of 3.2 t/ha. Early sowing with SI allowed early crop emergence and development of good stand before being subjected to the winter frost. As a result, the crop used rainwater more efficiently. Additional supplemental irrigation in the spring also increased yield significantly. Grain yields of 5120, 5170 and 5350 kg/ha were obtained by applying 1/3, 2/3 and full SI, respectively. The mean productivity of irrigation water given at sowing was 3.70 kg/m3 with maximum value of 4.5 kg/m3. Water productivity of 1/3, 2/3 and full SI were 2.39, 1.46 and 1.27 kg/m3, respectively, compared to rainwater productivity of 0.96 kg/m3.